Assimilating Seoul: Japanese Rule and the Politics of Public Space in Colonial Korea, 1910–1945 (Asia Pacific Modern #12) (Paperback)

Assimilating Seoul: Japanese Rule and the Politics of Public Space in Colonial Korea, 1910–1945 (Asia Pacific Modern #12) By Todd A. Henry Cover Image
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Assimilating Seoul, the first book-length study written in English about Seoul during the colonial period, challenges conventional nationalist paradigms by revealing the intersection of Korean and Japanese history in this important capital. Through microhistories of Shinto festivals, industrial expositions, and sanitation campaigns, Todd A. Henry offers a transnational account that treats the city’s public spaces as "contact zones," showing how residents negotiated pressures to become loyal, industrious, and hygienic subjects of the Japanese empire. Unlike previous, top-down analyses, this ethnographic history investigates modalities of Japanese rule as experienced from below. Although the colonial state set ambitious goals for the integration of Koreans, Japanese settler elites and lower-class expatriates shaped the speed and direction of assimilation by bending government initiatives to their own interests and identities. Meanwhile, Korean men and women of different classes and generations rearticulated the terms and degree of their incorporation into a multiethnic polity. Assimilating Seoul captures these fascinating responses to an empire that used the lure of empowerment to disguise the reality of alienation.

About the Author

Todd A. Henry is Associate Professor of History at the University of California, San Diego.

Praise For…

"A major contribution to the study of the history of twentieth-century Korea."
— John Whittier Treat

"A most welcome addition to the field of Korean studies."
— Alexis Dudden

"[Assimilating Seoul] delivers an impressive contribution to the growing collection of research on Japanese imperial history in Korea, and the Japanese-Korean relationship in particular. ... It defies categorization as either a Japanese or Korean history to serve as a valuable artery of both during the time of Japan’s colonial subjugation of the peninsula."
— Mark Caprio

"The first in-depth study in the English language of the history of Seoul in the first half of the twentieth century . . . entertaining and highly readable . . . a welcome addition to the growing literature on Korea’s colonial history and on urban history more generally."
— Janet Poole

"A detailed study of Korean and Japanese identity and adaptability in the colonial setting... Assimilating Seoul will be required reading for anyone studying the Japanese colonial period in Korea, for scholars of colonialism in general, and for students wanting to look beyond purely nationalist narratives for understandings of the past."
— Donald N. Clark

"A new and insightful perspective."
— Steven Denney

"Henry does an excellent job . . . Highly recommended."
— Choice

"Assimilating Seoul provides a nuanced view of Japan’s colonial endeavor in Korea. . . . A respectable contribution."
— Japanese Studies

"Bold and ambitious . . . A timely and provocative study."
— The Journal of Asian Studies

"Assimilating Seoul provides a wealth of information and brims with fresh insights... Henry's adept probe into the city's physical and conceptual ambits is remarkably perceptive." 
— Journal of Japanese Studies

"Beautifully written... The reader can feel the author’s genuine passion for understanding the people of whom he writes. Assimilating Seoul is essential reading for all students of twentieth-century Korean society. Directed as much at engaging historians based in South Korea as those elsewhere, the book is bound to spur debate."
— Journal of Korean Studies

"As a pioneering work on an important subject so far glaringly under-researched outside of South Korea and Japan, it enriches the scholarship on Korean history in English. . . Henry’s book represents first-rate, pioneering scholarship."
— Monumenta Nipponica
Product Details
ISBN: 9780520293151
ISBN-10: 0520293150
Publisher: University of California Press
Publication Date: October 13th, 2016
Pages: 320
Language: English
Series: Asia Pacific Modern